Emphasizing that it was Russia's "great pleasure and honor to host the representatives of the vast football family," Putin expressed hope that everyone who comes here "will be left with indelible, positive impressions," and not just from the games, but of the country itself.
"We have done everything possible to ensure that our guests, athletes, professionals, and of course, the fans, will feel at home in Russia. We have opened our country and our hearts to the world. Welcome to the FIFA World Cup!" Putin said.
Starting next week, Russia will host the month-long 2018 FIFA World Cup, with 12 stadiums across 11 Russian cities hosting competition between 32 teams from across six continents.